Jim Irsay: QB situation is 'opportunity' for Colts to remain competitive in 2021 and beyond

A little over a month ago, Colts owner Jim Irsay said his team was the "most complete" in the NFL.

On Wednesday, Irsay addressed where his team can reach an even fuller form in 2021, listing five positions of need -- edge rusher, left tackle (to replace the retired Anthony Castonzo), one or two playmakers at receiver and/or tight end, and cornerback -- but only after mentioning the most important role on the team: quarterback.

Indianapolis is again in the market for a signal-caller after its one-year dalliance with Philip Rivers, who rode off into the sunset with his bolo tie and a final playoff appearance in his saddlebag. The effort to replace Andrew Luck will resume with this offseason.

"That's opportunity," Irsay said, via The Athletic's Stephen Holder. "It can go a lot of different directions. And we have the two best guys to figure it out."

The "two best guys" are general manager Chris Ballard and coach Frank Reich, whom Irsay credited significantly for Indianapolis' return to the postseason via wild-card berth. Irsay said he and the duo have "already met for hours" on the matter, also coming to a consensus belief that the franchise is "close" to "producing for the Super Bowl soon," provided they can effectively solve the quarterback quandary.

Doing so can, as Irsay said, "change your trajectory like no one else," but another stopgap solution isn't ideal for a franchise that has a group young enough to insulate an inexperienced signal-caller. The key is nailing the pick or the deal that brings in the guy the Colts have identified as the answer under center.

"We just have to make sure we go in the right direction without setting ourselves back as we pursue a quarterback," Irsay said.

To those wondering about the status of Luck, Irsay shot down those hopes.

"It stands where it stands. Andrew's retired," Irsay said, via FOX59/CBS4 Sports' Mike Chappell. "He knows we would love to have him back, but only he could ever answer that question."

As for the rest of the team, the model resides in Kansas City, where the Chiefs exist as the repeat champions of the AFC who are poised to make it two straight Super Bowl victories if they can sink the Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV. Irsay pointed to a need to add pass-catching playmakers, using Kansas City's Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce as examples.

Those types don't just grow on trees, though, meaning Indianapolis might have to get creative to find its next quarterback. There are players available -- Los Angeles is looking to trade Jared Goff, for example -- but Irsay said his franchise will not set itself back with a deal to add a quarterback.

When it comes to filling the aforementioned need for playmakers, Indianapolis must first decide what to do with one of its own, receiver T.Y. Hilton. The 32-year-old is coming off a 56-catch season in which he finished with 762 receiving yards and five scores, but is headed toward free agency when his contract expires at the conclusion of the league year.

"We'd love to see T.Y. back. He's a great Colt," Irsay said. "He still has elite skills and can take over a game. The biggest thing at this point for athletes is ... there's a business side to it. You want a guy back, but it has to fit."

Indianapolis has plenty of cap space to work with, entering 2021 with a projected total of nearly $65 million in room, per Over The Cap. As Irsay said, there are holes to fill, with two of the most important existing at quarterback and left tackle.

Even in an offseason expected to be less lucrative due to a salary cap that is likely to be lower than projected before the onset of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Colts are positioned to be players. We'll see in the months ahead whether they can make the moves necessary to again become complete in the eyes of Irsay.

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